The Road to Tahoe...

Of all the numbered roadways in the world, I still think US 395 is one of my most favorite.

When heading north, I always want to leave early enough to see the sun rise. What a reward for an early alarm!
Today's added reward was an escort by the full moon. Wowzers.

The scenery is so diverse and every stop gives reason to oooh & aaah.

We even got a dose of nostalgia when we saw this truck bed full of 1960's era Schwinn bikes. I totally had the purple one and Steve, the green. So dang groovy.
A brief pause in the snow was a pre-welcome to our Tahoe cabin.
Here's to unforgettable Sierra memories! We can't wait.

"For there we loved, and where we love is home,
Home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts..."
-Oliver Wendell Holmes

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Memories Via Returned Mail...

Today, after a long porch visit, my friend, Lynne, gave me a box. I didn't open it until I got home. In it were years of love notes I had written her (the oldest was dated 2005). I didn't quite know what to think. She knew I liked to repurpose old cards and thought I might find something useful in ones I had sent her.

What I found was a postal journal of our friendship and my life since meeting her. What a gift this box of memories is.
Of the dozens of postcards, Disneyland was represented the most. I delighted in reading what I had written. This one from 2008 shares, "As I was walking into the Park, a man loudly asked his family, 'Are you ready for the magic?' His kids and I yelled simultaneously, 'Oh YEAH!'" Many, many Disney memories were revived via Lynne's return of my postcards.
Trips were relived, too. Fort Worth was pre-blog so I didn't remember the details too well. May, 17, 2008- "The town is more magical than I remembered. Quiet during the day. Clean. Fun. Alive at night. We went to the Improv last night... Hysterical. We wandered the streets. Dinner was a barbecued bologna sandwich at Riscky's (since 1927). YUM. Today, we are breakfasting in the courtyard of La Madeleine... a French Bistro. Today, we'll hang out in the Stockyard District. Love to you both."
I've shared this Grand Canyon postcard before but I didn't have an image of the backside.
This reminded me of the fear I had of maybe not making it to the bottom and out again. I had prepped this postcard before departing and had two choices of outcomes I was to check off after the journey. Thankfully, I didn't have to check option #2 "I had to be helped out and I will share all the details with you later... after I recover!" Funny stuff.
I even sent a letter "Mailed by Mule at the Bottom of the Grand Canyon Phantom Ranch". So dang cool.
I shared important events with her, via the post as well. Bellagio for our 20th where "streets were lined with incredible shops and fashionable Italians".
Our once-in-a-lifetime trip to China for my 46th was captured in a beautiful postcard. What a spectacular reminder of an incredible adventure.
Most of the cards were heartfelt testaments of our friendship, while some were just silly, sent to evoke smiles. This one still cracks me up.
The most poignant was this, buried deeply. I had no idea it had been kept. It is my bib number from the City of Hope's Walk of Hope. On my birthday, in 2007, the City of Hope saved Lynne with a bone marrow transplant. My effort at payback was this walk. What an emotional time that was in our friendship and what a treasured reminder of how lucky I am to still have Lynne in my life. Oh man, the power of mail: sent, received, and even more so, returned (surprisingly).

"A written note, a letter, a simple line of sympathy or writing loving phrases
is like a warm, human hand-clasp to some one lonely
or in the midst of an attack of the blues.
A letter means many pleasant things
and can keep the far-distant together."
-On Writing Notes, The Crescent of Gamma Phi Beta, 1904

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Naked Mail with the Smithsonian National Postal Museum

When Karen shared with me this mail knowledge gaining opportunity, I knew I was in. I love Naked Mail.

What is naked mail? Simply put, naked mail is mail without packaging or a cover.
The session promised to educate us about naked mail’s intriguing history, how it’s easy to send our own unique items through the mail, and creative ways to make our own naked letters. Fun stuff.
We heard from three panelists, the first being Alison Bazylinski, an Assistant Curator at the National Postal Museum. Alison shared the history of naked mail and why it was used and how.
Cost was a huge factor in keeping mail coverless. The price was based on how many sheets of paper the letter was and how far it had to travel. It was expensive.
The National Postal Museum’s collection holds a range of unusual examples of objects sent through the mail sans boxes or envelopes and Alison shared many of them, to my delight. This letter, from 1774 was folded in such a way as to keep secret its content while remaining only one sheet (which we learned how to do later in the program).
This postcard was crafted from a man's shirt cuff. So clever!
Alison also shared that it wasn't just postal customers who liked to mail unique coverless items, postal employees did too. This 1895 tramp bucket traveled the country, gathering postmarks of places it had been.
Employees sent this doll's head (which she believed probably began as a complete figure) around the country for years. Even mail carriers love mail!
The second panelist was Maggie Sigle, the Volunteer and Intern Program Manager at the National Postal Museum, who gave us guidance on the proper way to send naked mail.
She was a wealth of information and let us know that there is no USPS requirement to have mail in a package. When describing why people send naked mail she said "to surprise and delight the recipient". So very, very true.
The final (and most anticipated by me) panelist was Bel Mills, a collage artist and book designer who, under the name of Scrap Paper Circus, upcycles vintage paper and common mail materials such as return business envelopes and cancelled stamps. Bel was there to teach us three unique folds to keep our letters to one page, sans envelopes. Oh man, what fun!
This fold was my favorite. What a wonderful hour of gaining knowledge shared by some interesting women. I now love mail even more! Fun stuff.

"I'm pretty sure people are going to start writing letters again
once the email fad passes."
-Willie Geist

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A Stroll Through the Santa Rosa Plateau

The Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve is a hidden gem that offers a fascinating glimpse into the history and ecosystems of the area. It is one of our favorite, local hikes.

Consisting of 9,000 acres, the Reserve protects unique ecosystems such as Engelmann oak woodlands, riparian wetlands, coastal sage scrub, chaparral, bunchgrass prairie, and vernal pools as well as more than 200 species of native birds and 49 endangered, threatened or rare animal and plant species, including mule deer, mountain lions, badgers, bobcats, western pond turtles, white-tailed kites and fairy shrimp.
And no matter the time of year, there are always flowers in bloom.







What a magical place in which to wander.
“Of all the paths you take in life,
make sure a few of them are dirt.”
-John Muir

And what I love about hiking with my kids is that they always come with a trash bag and leave a place way better than it was when they arrived. So very, very cool.

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Our Tide Pooling Afternoon...

Any day at the beach is a great day but when it's the end of February and the weather is in the upper 70s, it's a perfect beach day.

I've become quite adept at following tide charts and when I saw that today's was low (.98 ft) and at a good time to avoid traffic (1:24 PM), we all gathered at our favorite shore- Carlsbad's Cerezo Bluffs.
John Steinbeck described tide pools in a interesting way that's worth sharing, “The tide goes out imperceptibly. The boulders show and seem to rise up and the ocean recedes leaving little pools, leaving wet weed and moss and sponge, iridescence and brown and blue and China red. On the bottoms lie the incredible refuse of the sea, shells broken and chipped and bits of skeleton, claws, the whole sea bottom a fantastic cemetery on which the living scamper and scramble.”


The big discovery was Wavy Turban Snails, with Julie finding the coolest one ever.


Though mine was the largest of the treasures. So dang cool!


I think this egret is a permanent resident. His yellow feet delight each time we visit.
It is always wonderful when the Haerr men get together and if it's at the beach, even better.

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